Review: The Corporation Wars: Dissidence

I really enjoyed Ken MacLeod’s Corporation Wars: Dissidence. MacLeod is a talented writer with interesting ideas and enough technical depth to clear the hurdles to suspension of disbelief.  That’s a real accomplishment when the world he’s creating includes multi-timescale simulation of AI’s that are at war with robots on the edge of self-awareness.  This is a book set in a world that literally has no humans embodied in flesh and blood in it.  It’s well done.

Beyond the ideas, the plot is sprightly, twisty, and engaging. One never loses track of who’s doing what to whom, whether at the timescales of diplomatic deception and betrayal or tactical battlefield action.  Beyond that, MacLeod turns many a fine phrase.

I both enjoyed reading Dissidence and admired the  significant craft and creativity that went into it.  Among other things, I’m surprised just how much computer science background an SF author can pretty blithely assume their audience has or can acquire.

That said, I think it never reaches the escape velocity to break out from good to great.  That’s no sin in my book.  This is genuinely a pleasure to read and the ideas are worth chewing on. But I feel like I’ll have forgotten it in a few years.  I’ll check in on his other work, though.  It seems like great is a matter of time and chemistry for him.


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